Not even racing the same car that won at Texas Motor Speedway could help Kyle Busch.
The 4-time Texas winner started in seventh and was racing in third when he started having issues with a right front tire about lap 56. He reported that he felt as though his Richard Childress Racing Chevy, the same one Tyler Reddick won at Texas with last year, was losing air in the tire.
Busch momentarily slowed then held position in seventh. On lap 74 however, with 7 laps to go in Stage 1, the tire went flat entering Turn 2 and the car slid into the outside wall with the rear.
Busch then drove the car backwards on the track from the exit of Turn 3 and rolled into his pit stall facing the wrong way. The Stage ended with the crew trying to make repairs, but the clock expired, and Busch was out of the race with his sixth DNF of the season. Busch later said he wasn’t sure what had happened.
“I have no idea,” he said. “It felt really good when we came off of pit road after that green-flag stop. The car had good grip in it. We had those couple of yellows back-to-back and we restarted on the outside. I felt like I had a flat right front (tire) and I was going to come to pit road. I second-guessed it and said ‘I don’t think so, man. It’s just something is wrong… something isn’t right, but it’s not a flat’. And just all on its own, just turned into the bottom of the racetrack in turn one and it just swapped ends on me. That’s the rear, not the front, not having grip… so I just don’t know.”
Busch came into Texas sixth in the points with two races to go in the Round of 12. But he leaves Texas 17 points behind the cutoff in 12th. Another DNF at Talladega or Charlotte’s ROVAL could easily sink the two-time champions Playoff hopes for this season for good.
“I hate it for everyone on this No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet team,” Busch said. “I felt like our car was for sure a top-five or top-10 car today. That right there, I just said it two laps before that – I got up on the high-side and was like, you know what, I just need to stop and just run the bottom… make laps here, just finish the stage and it swaps ends on me.”
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